Film review by: Witney Seibold
It wasn’t until I began rounding the corner of adulthood that I saw the tragedy of Peter Pan. As a kid, fearing responsibility, it must be grand to imagine a world without adult interaction, where you can play, sleep, adventure, etc. for the rest of eternity. There’s probably even a bit of each adult that longs for the halcyon days of youthful irresponsibility and the eagerness of a yet untranspired life. But with “Peter Pan,” most recently realized in the new film directed by P.J. Hogan, we finally see our fantasy realized, and, as adults, we can see that a boy, of about 12 or 13, has put his life on hold just as things were beginning to get exciting. Love and sex and drama. Catharsis and learning and growing up. How sad that a boy has willfully denied himself these things to mire in a world of the same old flying about dueling with the same curmudgeonly pirate.
It’s comforting that in this gorgeous, exciting, but rather banal interpretation of the classic J.M. Barrie play ‘n’ book, the tragedy is, at least on a level, kept in tact. In this version, Wendy (lovely and toothsome Rachel Hurd-Wood), after an observation by her aunt (Lynn Redgrave), is required to move into her new room and begin her new education as an adult, beginning tomorrow. So her night trip to Neverland seems almost like a last fantasy where she comes to terms with having to grow up. Pan (Jeremy Sumpter from “Frailty”), a plucky American, loves his new friend, but is confused and belligerent when he sees that there may be romance involved in this new thing. It’s rather nice to have the tragic emotional struggle finally brought to light.
But this is only a small part of the film. The rest is all the usual adventures and elements that we all know from previous productions. Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier, quite possibly the most beautiful woman alive) seems lifted directly from the tepid Disney cartoon. The croc and the pirates and the Lost Boys… it’s been done. Jason Isaacs has a great time playing both Capt. Hook and Wendy’s father, but Hook would be far more effective if he was portrayed as darker and actually violent.
The biggest comfort, though, is that Peter Pan is finally played by an actual boy. Mary Martin, Cathy Rigby, Robin Williams? Yeesh.